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31 in 31

Top prospects for Los Angeles Kings

LaDue, Kempe expected to have full-time roles this season

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Los Angeles Kings. 

The Los Angeles Kings were not shy about using rookies last season. Four played at least 22 games: defensemen Derek Forbort (82), Kevin Gravel (49) and Paul LaDue (22), and forward Adrian Kempe (25). Two others, center Jonny Brodzinski (6) and goaltender Jack Campbell (1) also played in the NHL.

Ultimately, that experience could bode well in the attempt to inject youthful energy into the lineup.

 

[KINGS 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

Here are the Kings' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

 

1. Gabriel Vilardi, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 11 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Windsor (OHL): 49 GP, 29-32-61

Vilardi is the highest-drafted player by the Kings since 2009, when they selected forward Brayden Schenn at No. 5. Vilardi was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the 2017 NHL Draft by ISS Hockey and the Hockey News, so the Kings were thrilled to get him at No. 11. 

The 17-year-old has drawn comparisons to Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone, someone with above-average hands who has the size (6-foot-3, 201 pounds) to get to the hard areas of the ice. Like Stone did, Vilardi needs to upgrade his skating. If he can do that, Vilardi projects as a top-six forward.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Kings draft F Gabriel Vilardi No. 11

 

2. Paul LaDue, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 181 pick in 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Los Angeles 22 GP, 0-8-8; Ontario (AHL): 38 GP, 6-12-18

With Brayden McNabb's departure to the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft, LaDue is expected to see regular duty this season after playing about one-quarter of last season.

LaDue (6-2, 201) plays quality minutes and is known more for his steadiness than his flash, qualities that endear him to coaches. The 24-year-old played three seasons at the University of North Dakota and capped his college career by winning the NCAA Division I national championship in 2016.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: LAK@EDM: LaDue's wrister puts Kings on board

 

3. Adrian Kempe, LW

How acquired: Selected with No. 29 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Los Angeles 25 GP, 2-4-6; Ontario (AHL): 46 GP, 12-8-20

At times last season, Kempe, 20, showed the offensive flair that made him a first-round pick three years ago. The skills are there, but for Kempe (6-2, 202), the challenge will be to show more consistency. 

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

4. Jonny Brodzinski, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 148 pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Los Angeles 6 GP, 0-2-2; Ontario (AHL): 59 GP, 27-22-49

Brodzinski, 24, has been a goal-scorer at every level and can help the Kings, who need offense. He had three seasons scoring at least 21 goals at St. Cloud (Minn.) State University from 2012-15.

In his first professional season in 2015-16, Brodzinski (6-1, 218) had a slow start trying to adjust to the American Hockey League and didn't score his first goal with Ontario until Dec. 6. He finished with 15 goals in 65 games. 

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: EDM@LAK: Shore deflects home Brodzinski's wrister

 

5. Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 41 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Spokane (WHL): 72 GP, 39-37-76

Anderson-Dolan played for Spokane of the Western Hockey League last season for coach Don Nachbaur, who was added to the Kings coaching staff this offseason. The 17-year-old was captain of Canada's under-18 team at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, which speaks to his leadership ability.

Anderson-Dolan (5-11, 188) is sound defensively, good at faceoffs, and has the ability to take his offensive game to another level.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

Video: Jaret Anderson-Dolan on heading to LA, LGBT household

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